The video game industry thrives on hype. Trailers for the biggest games rack up millions of views as fans study their every frame. Conferences and conventions all over the world churn out new game announcements every couple of months. It’s all done to escalate the buzz and ratchet up the hype for upcoming games. And so it’s inevitable, with so many games getting so much expectation heaped on top of them, that some are going to disappoint their audiences. As in previous years, that’s what happened for a handful of big-budget games this year. Here are the biggest video game disappointments of 2016, ranked.
ReCore seemed destined for greatness. After all, it was made by Keiji Inafune, the legendary developer behind franchises like Mega Man and Onimusha, along with some of the people behind the incredible Metroid Prime series. They got together and set out to make a post-apocalyptic game starring a woman and her robotic pet who are on a mission to find a new home for humankind.
Apparently it was destined for disappointment, because the finished game is poorly designed and padded with content in all the wrong ways. The game’s many failings prove that you can’t always believe the hype.
7. Street Fighter V
At its core, Street Fighter V is a solid fighting game. The problem is that the core is all gamers got when it first launched. The game was clearly unfinished when it shipped. Heck, some items on the main menu were grayed out before an update came a month later. As of December 2016, many months after it became available, it still lacked a single-player arcade mode. Instead, it has a cluster of bad Story Mode segments that give each character a short, pointless narrative consisting of between two and four incredibly easy fights.
There’s a finely-tuned fighting game experience here, but perhaps Capcom should have waited until the game was finished to release it.
6. Star Fox Zero
There’s no reason for a Star Fox game on Wii U to be anything less than excellent. It’s a follow-up to some of the most top-notch space shooters in existence, after all. And yet, it’s a ho-hum experience from top to bottom. Not only does it recycle enemies and locations from previous games, but it uses a tilt-based control scheme that takes way too long to feel comfortable using. Not even plucky heroes like Fox McCloud and Slippy Toad could save this one from being a disappointment.
5. The Last Guardian
Here’s a game that was mired in “development hell” for nearly a decade. That’s a long time for fan anticipation to build, made all the worse because the developer’s previous two titles are the bona fide classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. It’s unlikely any game could have lived up to that kind of hype.
And while a few fans and critics hail The Last Guardian as a masterpiece, many players find it more frustrating than fun. That’s because Trico, your giant bird-cat-dog hybrid companion, has a mind of its own and often thwarts your attempts to complete puzzles long after you’ve figured out what you need to do to proceed. Throw in persistent bugs, and you’ve got yourself a disappointing game.
Made by the developers behind Borderlands, Battleborn is an online shooter that plays like a MOBA. And it’s actually a fairly fun game that’s packed with plenty to do, whether you’re teaming up with friends or strangers. The problem is, its audience dipped considerably a few weeks after release when Blizzard launched a hero shooter of its own. Overwatch swooped in and absorbed all of the attention of Battleborn’s core audience, and it has managed to hang onto this attention months later. Meanwhile, Battleborn sits on the shelf for most people who bought it — unless they sold it back to buy Overwatch.
3. Mighty No. 9
Mega Man has a sizable fan base who’ve been itching for a new game in the series for years now. Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune is no longer with Capcom, but he went to Kickstarter to fund Mighty No. 9, a game billed as Mega Man’s spiritual successor. Fans were so eager to play it that they funded the project to the tune of $3.8 million.
Unfortunately for them, Mighty No. 9 ended up being a mighty disappointment. From the cheap-looking graphics to the uninspired level designs, Mighty No. 9 failed to capture the magic of Mega Man, or any magic at all.
2. Homefront: The Revolution
The second game in a series is often the best one. That’s because developers are able to use what they learned making the first game to correct any problems and build out smart new gameplay ideas. That’s what fans were hoping would happen with Homefront: The Revolution, a follow-up to a fun but flawed original game.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. While The Revolution is a more ambitious game than its predecessor, it crumbles under the weight of its ambitions. From the game’s performance issues to its poor stealth controls, much of Homefront: The Revolution just doesn’t work the way it should. This one could have used more time in development.
1. No Man’s Sky
I think it’s safe to say no game disappointed more people in 2016 than No Man’s Sky. We’d bought into so much of the hype that disappointment was all but inevitable. But the real problem was communication. Over the course of development, studio head Sean Murray had talked up all kinds of features the game would have. Some of those features didn’t make it into the finished product, nor had some features people had simply imagined would be in there. When customers went to play it, many of them had an idea of a universe-sized game with endless possibilities. That’s not what No Man’s Sky is.
Instead, it’s a lonely game about visiting randomly generated planets to gather resources. The game recently got a “Foundation” update that introduced a building mechanic and set the groundwork for what the game may become — at some point. In reality, the patch came too late, because most players had already moved on.